This paper reports on a study of car drivers’ assessment of a sustainability policy involving increased car parking fees in Swedish city centers. The aim of the study was to investigate how framing of information in text and pictures influences acceptance of increasing car parking fees and how values, general beliefs and norms as well as measure-specific beliefs influence the acceptability of the measure. Drawing on Goal Framing Theory, the acceptance of a parking fee policy was tested using three different goal frames (hedonic, gain and normative); the frames were compared with each other and a control message. The study was based on a survey directed to residents (18 to 75 years of age) in 51 larger municipalities in Sweden. The survey had an experimental design. Respondents were presented with a scenario of an increase in parking fees to promote environmental sustainability. The scenario was presented in three ways (manipulations), highlighting hedonic (e.g., emotional), gain, and normative aspects, respectively, in text and pictures. The results showed that the three message frames had different effects and were overall more effective than the control message in engendering the desired reduction in private car use and, thus, the intended environmental impact. Further, the degree of acceptability of the increased parking fee influenced the expected behavioral change in the groups receiving a goal framed message in relation to the parking fee measure. Implications from a sustainability perspective concern the importance of how environmental policies are framed when communicated to the public in order to increase acceptance and support.
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